Posts Tagged ‘Indie Rock’

h1

Other Lives – Tamer Animals

Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Tamer Animals (2211)

Tamer Animals (2211)

I first heard/saw these guys as the opening act for Radiohead earlier this year in Dallas. Even then I was very impressed with their talent, but never gave Tamer Animals a listen until last week.

In my opinion, these guys are the best act in Oklahoma. They deserve much more attention than they currently have. Hailing from Stillwater, they bring that Oklahoma red dirt flavor to blends of folk, indie, with a tinge of arena rock. The music is expansive, even hypnotic. There’s an almost holy aura to it, like a Gregorian chant. It’s really hard to place, but Jesse Tabish’s voice sort of reminds me of Paul Banks or Ian Curtis, and their atmosphere is reminiscent of Radiohead, if Radiohead were earthy and American. There is something soulful and surreal in their delivery.

Besides the usual instruments of drums, bass, and guitar (mostly, if not all, acoustic) there is excellent interspersing of piano and strings.

If you haven’t listened to these guys yet, don’t miss this.

h1

Arcade Fire – Funeral

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Funeral (2004)

This is one of the only albums I can think of (maybe the only one) that infuses and intermixes happiness, sadness, childhood memories, and intensity that can be, at the same time, uplifting and heartbreaking, mysterious, and so full of love. This is an album, every time I listen to it (because no matter how many times I listen to it, it never gets old, but is always new, like love), that it fills me with every emotion known to man and nothing contradicts. It draws out in me a longing that the Germans call sehnsucht. It’s like trying to remember the best dream in the world, but failing, having the perfect thought or realization, but being unable to wrap your mind around it or put it into practice, or the way you feel when you remember what it was like to look into the eyes of your loved one who is now gone, for whatever reason.

This album represents everything that is beautiful to me – about finding beauty in the unexpected. It’s like I realize that life doesn’t make sense, and that’s okay for some weird reason. I think, most of all, it reminds me of childhood, when we were too young to realize that our dreams were impossible, and because of this, they were possible. I remember, when I was a child, I liked to try to write books and draw pictures and pretend, and everything was fresh and new – where the forest by my house, probably just an acre in size, might as well have been the dark forest of ancient Germany that would take days to explore and tromp around in. It reminds me of my first loves, my first crushes, the awkwardness and beauty of growing up, the tragedy of growing up, and the slow pains of what it is to lose your childhood and innocence, and the loss of pure friendships, which seem to become harder and harder to find as one grows older (when one’s heart grows colder, and when you can’t see that it’s still alive).

That’s what Funeral is to me. It’s like when you grow up and become an adult, there’s a funeral held for your childhood, and you’re the only one that’s invited, looking at your coffin being carried out by the ghosts of your dreams, which are buried with it. Society expects you to put away your childhood and be the perfect adult, and not do anything “childish,” like pretend, love, or laugh too much, or blow milk out of your nose for fun, or what have you, so you can become crotchety old man or woman who frowns upon young upstarts who do the same thing. But in Arcade Fire and with Funeral, there is this duality of joy and loss, of remembering childhood and all its possibilities, and looking back and realizing that things can never be the same. It’s like how the greatest misery is rehearsing memories of happiness , realizing that all those things you were no longer are. I love this album, and within each song, so brilliantly written and executed, I hear echoes of the human soul that is evident throughout all ages, of our struggles and beauty, longings, and love.

Funeral, to me, is a reminder that life is as beautiful and lovely as it is sad. It is not one, or the other, but both. What’s weird is I have all these impressions, and I’ve only been listening to this for a short while (perhaps a month or two). This is one of those rare albums where I love every song – I have no favorite, and each speaks to me in a different way. From the excitement of Neighborhood 1, to learning how to try (for all your life), I love this album. That is all I can say. What’s strange is – I have yet to listen to anything else by Arcade Fire – and even if I never did for the rest of my life, I would be completely happy knowing this album. It’s like when I listen to it, I’m drunk on it, and is a complete and utter eargasm (nay – a DOUBLE eargasm). Yeah. That’s right.

On that note…yeah! I don’t just love this album – I’m in love with it. And I hope the magic never fades.

h1

Pixies – Doolittle

Sunday, April 5, 2009
Doolittle (1989)

Doolittle (1989)

Springtime’s in the air in Oklahoma. Sort of. Which means windows come down and the tunes get cranked up, cause I’m that “cool guy” who does that, who people think he thinks that they think he’s cool because he plays his music loud, but in reality he knows he’s a huge dork, hopefully of the loveable kind, but most likely not.

To get to the point, I really like listening to Doolittle when the weather is perfect. Like, seventy two degrees (Fahrenheit), sunny, a certain smell of freshness in the air unique to early spring in the South, where often listening to a record as ecletic as Doolittle is liable to get you shot (not really), that is, if you don’t get sucked up a tornado first.

I love living where I am, especially around this time of year, where I am witness to thunderstorms galore. Doolittle to me is the perfect spring album. Upbeat, really crazy, and can get your blood pumping – maybe we don’t need that tornado. Certainly, Doolittle is one of the most fun albums I own.

The sheer bliss of “Debaser” and all the crazy yelling and words that seem to be in German. Love it. Also, “Wave of Mutilation” is absolutely amazing. “Here Comes Your Man” has to have the catchiest guitar riffs of all of indie music – maybe all time. Maybe I’m just a loser, but the rest of the album seems to drop in quality, but for the Pixies that still means amazing. The rest of the songs sort of seem to flow together – fun to listen to, though I don’t know their names. They’re fun though.

Well, I shall be “cranking” this bad boy of an album out for the next week or so, or until I fancy something else. Or even Surfer Rosa, which is fun stuff too. Always, of course, windows down.

h1

Modest Mouse – The Moon and Antarctica

Wednesday, February 18, 2009
The Moon and Antarctica (2000)

The Moon and Antarctica (2000)

YES! I’m goint to see Modest Mouse March 3rd (how’s that for alliteration?).

To do honors to this band, I shall be reviewing The Moon and Antarctica, my favorite Modest Mouse album.

This CD is chocked full of good song after good song. Seriously. First up with have “3rd Planet,” an indie musical masterpiece. Though Modest Mouse are pretty mainstream now, they have always stood out from every other current indie act in my mind. Their music has a sort of “roughness” to it (this is especially evident in The Lonesome Crowded West).

But with 2000’s The Moon and Antarctica, Modest Mouse cool things down a bit, a become a little smoother. Don’t get me wrong – the frenzied strumming and manic screaming is still there (see “Alone Down There”) But Modest Mouse really expand their sound here and sound like a more mature band. I really don’t know what that means, actually. I just think this album sounds better than anything else they’ve done, which is saying a lot for Modest Mouse.

As I mentioned, “3rd Planet” is quite amazing. Actually, everything up to “Wild Pack of Family Dogs” is just epic (WPFD is just the odd-man out for me for this CD).

I think you have to listen to this CD a few a times because it’s not very easy to explain. It’s just…good music. 

My favorite song is “Tiny Cities Made of Ashes.” This is also my favorite Modest Mouse song. It’s just so laid back with the single bassline repeating itself over and over – and then the SCREAMING CHORUS- then eveyrthing’s back to calm and cool. It’s a really neat song and I haven’t heard the likes of it before listening to The Moon and Antarctica. Also, the organ towards the end is pretty cool.

Go Modest Mouse! Cool live rendition below.

h1

Death Cab for Cutie – Transatlanticism

Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Transatlanticism (2003)

Transatlanticism (2003)

Death Cab was the first “indie” band I became interested in, much less listened to.

My musical awakening came a little later than most. I don’t think I even bought a good CD until I was a senior in high school. So, Death Cab for Cutie was a gateway band that pointed me on to more good music.

Transatlanticism was how Death Cab did that.

After hearing “Title and Registration” and “Passenger Seat” on a CD my friend gave me, I was hooked. Irreversibly hooked. I handn’t known such beautiful pop perfection even existed.

These songs made me buy the actual CD. I had recently picked up guitar, so the album also served as useful fodder to find a few easy tunes to play.

But don’t let easy fool you – this music has incredible depth, musically and lyrically, which is to be expected since it’s Death Cab’s magnum opus. The songs topics range from the pain of losing a lover (“Title and Registration”), the deceitfulness of lust (“Tiny Vessels”), to the distance we feel that seems wider than the Atlantic Ocean (“Transatlanticism”).

Transatlanticism seems to be a reflection on loneliness, a call looking for its answer across impossibly vast distances that one can never conquer alone. It is call which isn’t answered until their next album, Plans.

h1

Sonic Youth – Washing Machine

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Washing Machine (1995)

Washing Machine (1995)

I’ve always considered Sonic Youth’s Washing Machine, released in 1995, to be their best post-Daydream Nation album. Here’s why.

One of the reasons is due to memory. I bought Washing Machine last summer. I listened to it constantly in my car on my way to a local community college, thirty minutes each way. Every time I listen to it now, the memories of that time come flooding back – a rainy day before a test, a trip with a friend to Panda Express, the hot Oklahoma interstate. All of these time, Washing Machine was blaring. Because of Washing Machine, I can reflect on this time of my life just by popping the CD in.

But back to the album itself. I’ve read some reviews of Washing Machine that faulted the album for having no particular sound. Balderdash. The fuzzy, reverby, and even watery sound is present throughout the entire album. Sonic Youth excels on Washing Machine just as much as they have in past in creating a unique sound for a album never attempted by any other artist, with the possible exception of Dirty in 1992 for its grunge influences.

It starts of solid with “Becuz.” “Becuz” is a mixture between traditional, noisy Sonic Youth with the breakdown in the middle, and more melodic strains explored thoroughly in previous albums. Like Daydream Nation, Sonic Youth find a way to blend their chaotic, noisy past with the demands of the mainstream, only in an entirely different way. In this respect, Washing Machine has done what the much more famous Daydream Nation has also done, only from a different perspective.

Track three, “Saucer-Like,” has an amazing intro. Thurston sounds like he’s singing underwater here, as did Kim Gordon in “Becuz.” All of the songs have the peculiar quality – perhaps something to do with the production. Track four, “Washing Machine,” is one of Gordon’s greatest successes.

In fact, this album is a large testament to her creativity, as she stars in most of the album’s most successful moments.  “Washing Machine” is an eight minute epic. “Epic” might not be the right word. But the sonic effects created by the band here are extraordinary, especially around minute six towrads the end.

Track five, “Unwind,” is suitably named – it is relaxing, soft, yet somehow off-putting. A strange combination of words, I know, but Sonic youth can do things with their instruments and lyrics that make those words blend together like the strains of their music.

A definite highlight on the album comes with track six, “Little Trouble Girl,” a duet between Kim Gordon and Kim Deal, the latter the bassist from The Pixies guest singing for the song. Two Kims, two bassists, two girls, from two high influential alternative acts – who could ask for more? The song itself is strange, haunting, and beautiful. I am enthralled with this track and Sonic Youth’s ability to create such a moody atmosphere that almost defies words to describe. Put side by side, Deal is the stronger singer, but people don’t listen to Sonic Youth for the singing. It goes beyond that.

Following “Little Trouble Girl” is “No Queen Blues,” the hardest rocking song on the album. Thurston Moore destroys on this track. The bluesy feel it showcases is not often attempted by Sonic Youth. But blended with their noise, Sonic youth take blues to a whole other level. And of course, the complete noise breakdown towards the end is classic.

The rest of the songs are not really worth mention. Except one.

“The Diamond Sea.” Ahh, yes. This song is often pointed to as Sonic Youth’s last hurrah during their relatively mainstream stint from Goo in 1990 to Washing Machine in 1995.  Now this is a song which could deservedly be called epic! The lyrics are sung in Thruston’s husky, pleading voice about what seems to be a marriage or relationship gone awry and based on deceit and selfishness.

The mood Sonic Youth creates with their music perfectly reflects the lyrics, “Look into his eyes and you will see / that men are not alone on the diamond sea / sail into the heart of a lonely storm / and tell her you’ll love her eternally.” The relationship is one in which the couple cannot be honest with one another, so while one is beset with loneliness and the other has image problems, they are both too self-centered to meet each others needs or accept one another. There are other themes, of course, which I will leave to you, the listener, to discover on your own.

Washing Machine is an absolute must for anyone claiming to be a Sonic Youth fan. Washing Machine is an absolute must for anyone interested in Sonic Youth. Lastly, Washing Machine is an absolute must for anyone claiming to be a fan of music. That might be too far, but that is my humble opinion.